3 Best Performing NBA #1 Draft Picks of the Last 10 Seasons

The NBA Draft season culminated recently with Zion Williamson as the 2019 first overall pick. The New Orleans Pelicans selected Williamson.

Hopes and expectations. These are the words that describe the selection process. And whoever can prove that he is worthy of the spot gets drafted.

It’s time we look back some of the best NBA #1 overall draft picks in the last ten years. Note: not all NBA draft picks performed what was expected of them. But these three people delivered!

1) Kyrie Irving

NBA Draft: 2011

Picked by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Irving was one of the best players of the 2010-11 basketball season. He played with the Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball. Irving averaged 17.4 points in the first eight games, but an injury puts his performance to a halt.

It did not stop the NCAA to include Irving in the roster of the Freshman of the Year. He was the strongest contender then. On his last game with the Duke, Irving scored 28 points.

He forwent the last three seasons of his eligibility and went ahead with the NBA draft.

In 2012, he was chosen as part of the Rising Stars Challenge where he scored 34 points. His three-point shooting expertise showed with 8-of-8 baskets. Irving was given Most Valuable Player (MVP) honours.

Irving became the 2011-12 Rookie of the Year. He appeared on his first NBA finals in 2014-15 and first NBA championship in the next year. He played one more season with the Cavaliers before signing up with the Boston Celtics. 

In 2019, he became a free agent and signed with Brooklyn Nets.

2) Anthony Davis

NBA Draft: 2012

Davis was selected by New Orleans Hornets and stayed with the team for the next seven seasons until he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.

His #1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft was a basketball forecast of 2011. Davis was also predicted to be a college basketball Grand Slam awardee, winning National Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Freshman of the Year.

Davis led the Kentucky Wildcats’ eighth NCAA championship.

On the same year, he became a part of the Team USA and competed at the 2012 Olympics. He was the first American player who played at the Olympics without prior NBA experience.

Davis was declared for the draft and the rest of the champion team’s starting five. He signed a three-year contract with the Hornets valued at $16 million. 

He appeared at the First All-Star in 2013-14 and had his first playoff the following season. In 2016-17, he recorded 50 points in a season opener game. He holds the second-highest scoring next to Michael Jordan who scored a whopping 54 points in 1989.

3) Ben Simmons

NBA Draft: 2016

The Philadelphia 76ers chose Simmons, and he stayed with the team until now. 

He played for the Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers. Simmons was named first-team All-American as well as the National Freshman of the Year. LSU Tigers did not qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

Simmons moved forward by entering the NBA Draft. And he became the third Australian who became #1 overall pick. (Irving was one of these three players).

Simmons was the first player to become #1 pick without prior NCAA Tournament experience.

He wasn’t able to play on his first year with the 76ers because of an injury. In 2018-19, however, he proved the media analysts (and those who doubt his shooting capabilities by becoming the Rookie of the Year. He was also included in the NBA All-Rookie First Team.

In 2019, Simmons was named to the NBA All-Star.


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5 Big 3s to Watch Out For in the 2019-20 NBA Season

Triangle offence.

While it is a simple yet perplexing offence strategy, it works. It worked for Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, among NBA teams whose championships were founded on the triangle offence.

Scott Cacciola explains in Three Sides to This Story what a triangle offence is and how it looks like. It “revolves around seven guiding principles that include maintaining proper spacing, penetration bypassing and the interchangeability of positions. Every player ought to be able to score and from different angles.” And yes, it involves three to four players – the post, wing, and corner players – to form a triangle.

It is about proper spacing, moving the ball, and reading and breaking the opponent’s defence.

Much has been said about the death of the Big 3. And yet the importance of such cannot be dismissed at this point.

Here are the NBA Big 3s who will dominate the 2019-20 season.

5) Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Eric Bledsoe

Milwaukee Bucks became the 2018-19 season’s best team thanks to these three. 

Antetokounmpo is one of the best defensive players in the NBA but lacks in shooting section. Middleton is the three-point shooter that knows how to play the dynamics of the court to his advantage. Middleton can guarantee the shooting while Bledsoe is for defending the perimeter.

4) Houston Rockets: James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Erik Gordon

Harden and Westbrook, who are both MVPs, make the Big Two. Add up sharpshooting Gordon, and this Big 3 will be unstoppable.

Harden’s capabilities are comparable with Michael Jordan’s at the 1986-87 NBA season, scoring 36.1 points per game versus Jordan’s 37.1 points. Westbrook, on his part, is the only player who averaged triple-double in the 2016-17 season. He may not have the most reliable defensive plays, but Harden and Gordon can cover up for him.

3) Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris

Embiid and Simmons are two big men who can play defensively and offensively at every position on the court. Both have exceptional abilities to space out the floor while opposing the other team’s big men. There are not many issues with Embiid other than his fitness. With Simmons, however, his outside jump shots still lack the efficiency to convert to points.

This is where Harris comes in who can shoot spot-up and off-the-dribble. His jumper skills are dependable too.

2) Los Angeles Lakers: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and DeMarcus Cousins

James, according to sports analysts, has shown signs of slowing down in the past season despite his 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 8.3 assists average per game stats. 

Davis and Cousins, on the other hand, are at their prime. Davis can dominate the floor, on both ends while Cousins always has a workaround for an easy basket.

1) Los Angeles Clippers: Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Lou Williams

Kawhi Leonard made NBA history by switching offseason after winning a championship and Finals MVP. He is now with the Clippers along with Paul George, who Leonard encouraged to request a trade as him so they can be in the same team.

Leonard and George are a defensive dynamo that Lou Williams, a scorer himself, shall complement. Williams is also a reliable defence player.

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Lebron James Can’t Trade No. 23 Just Yet

As part of his big plan to welcome Anthony Davis, Lebron James is giving up his jersey number as a gift to his new Los Angeles Lakers teammate. 

Lakers confirmed the blockbuster trade last month. It took months for the team to land Davis due to the trade deadline in February. Lakers was only able to make a deal after the free agency moratorium period has ended.

James has yet to relinquish No. 23 because Nike, the official jersey manufacturer of the NBA, won’t let that happen just yet, citing potential production and financial issues to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, ESPN reported.

Nike did not comply due to volumes of inventory of the No. 23 James jerseys. Nike also had an upcoming Lebron 17 sneakers with the same jersey number imprint. Updating to No. 6 in time for selling this fall would be impractical given that design has already been signed off and production has started.

The jersey swap was planned in 2019-20 and was supposed to happen for the 2020-21 season until it met some roadblocks. James previously documented the supposed swap on his Instagram account, confirming the switch back to No. 6 as well. 

Davis has worn No. 23 during his seven-season stint with the New Orleans Pelicans. He also used it in high school and college. James had his No. 23 jersey for his eleven seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

James agreed to swap when Davis enters Lakers. James would resume using No. 6, his previous jersey number with Miami Heat, where he won two titles and making it to the NBA finals for four years straight, and in the Olympics as a part of Team USA if the swap pushed through.

The Lakers had already missed the March 15, 2019 deadline for any jersey changes. The team discovered the said deadline only after it made an inquiry with the NBA. According to the league, the number change would still be possible if it can work out a deal with Nike.

But even if they met the said deadline, the request is expected to be declined. James did not submit an official request to change his jersey number from No. 23 to No. 6 for the next season either. 

James and the team have until March 15, 2020, to make the official declarations.

For James also, he would hold off the change to consider the fans who have already purchased No. 23 James jerseys. Yahoo! Sports also reported that the Lakers star would bypass the decision so he, Davis and the entire team may focus on competing for a championship.

Since the jersey swap is not happening, Davis took to Instagram to announce that he’d be sticking with No. 3–the number he used in the last season and when he was in elementary school. The team also announced it on its official Twitter account last Saturday, July 13.

While the fans won’t be seeing No. 23 Davis jerseys, Davis was introduced to the Lakers fans through a press conference later that same day.